Zaatar is the earthy Middle Eastern spice that looks vaguely like sesame flecked weed, and kinda smells like it too. Its flavor is dank and fragrant without being overpowering. I’m partial to dusting it over avocado toast, sprinkling it onto a ball of burrata or in this case, folding it into breadcrumbs for the schnitzel coating that dreams are made of.
This recipe calls for a sizable amount of zaatar – not the sorry amount sold in those little green boxes at the grocery store (not only will that never be enough zaatar but whoever designed the packaging was either a fool or wanted me to spill spices all over my kitchen). Instead, hit up a Middle Eastern market or your local bulk bin aisle for fresher, better value options.
I recommend this recipe to anyone with some stress that needs releasing because it calls for straight up pulverizing a chicken breast with all your might. You’re going for paper thin chicken cutlets to maximize the crisp factor when you fry these babies up, so don’t be shy. I don’t have a meat tenderizer at home, so I used various *found* objects throughout my kitchen to get the job done - there was a cast iron skillet, a ladle and my fists involved and damn it felt good.
If zaatar and meat tenderizing weren’t enough to sell you on this recipe, it’s basically funfetti cake, but instead of sprinkles it’s zaatar and instead of cake it’s chicken.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons zaatar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons canola oil
Very thinly sliced kumquats or lemon (for garnish)
Tahini (for serving)
Place one chicken breast between two sheets of cellophane. Using a meat tenderizer (or heavy skillet, ladle, your fists), whack the chicken until it is uniformly about a quarter inch thick. Set aside and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Repeat with remaining chicken breast.
Prepare the breading stations. Place flour on a dinner plate. Beat eggs in a bowl. Combine breadcrumbs, zaatar and sesame seeds on a dinner plate.
Using your hands, dredge first chicken breast in flour to coat entirely. Then, transfer to egg bowl and ensure the egg coats the entire breast. Lastly, transfer to breadcrumb plate and coat entirely. Set aside and repeat with remaining chicken breast.
Heat canola oil in a large skillet. Add first chicken breast and cook for about five minutes. Flip and cook for another five minutes. Set aside, add a bit more oil and repeat with remaining chicken breast.
Garnish with citrus and serve with tahini.